Supporting people at the end of their lives is an important part of our service at the Mater Hospital. We care for people during their last few days, weeks or months and also work to ensure their comfort and dignity while they are in our care. 

Comfort and dignity

At the Mater Hospital, we are committed to making sure that patients who die in our hospital experience comfort and dignity, and that our patients families are supported in their bereavement.

When a person is dying or has just died on a ward in the hospital, this symbol may be displayed at a nurses station or on the doors to the ward. The symbol tells staff and visitors that a very personal event is happening on the ward and that it is a time for dignity and respect. 

Our Family Rooms and Family Suites

Many families spend long days in our hospital with a relative who is seriously ill. We understand how difficult it can be for our patients and their families, and we are working to make these times as comfortable as possible by creating family rooms and suites in our hospital.

Our family rooms and suites give our patients and their families a quiet, private space, away from the busy wards to be together.

Each family room has free tea and coffee making facilities and a sleepover sofa to allow a family member to stay overnight if their loved one is seriously ill or dying. Family rooms can also be a place where patients and their families can meet with healthcare professionals and talk in private. Each family suite is made up of two interlinking rooms, one room for the patient and the other room is a family area. The suites have a kitchenette and a sleepover sofa to allow a family member to stay overnight if their loved one is seriously ill or dying.

Further information and photographs of our refurbished family rooms and suites are available in the below booklet. 

How you can help our end of life care service

We have completely refurbished 14 family rooms and 2 comfort care family suites in our hospital so far, and we are working towards the goal of having a family room or family suite in every ward for our patients and their families. 

You can help us achieve our goal by contacting The Mater Hospital Foundation and making a donation or fundraising for "The end of life care and family room refurbishment fund". 

The Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme

The Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme is an initiative of the Irish Hospice Foundation, in partnership with the Health Service Executive (HSE). The programme was set up in 2007 and it aims to ensure that end-of-life, palliative and bereavement care is central to the everyday business of hospitals.

In our hospital, we aim to provide the highest standard of end-of-life care for all of our patients and their families, and the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme looks at how we can continually work to improve this care. We are working on all aspects of end-of-life care in our hospital, from the education and training of our staff, to audits and research. We are also very focused on improving the environment for our patients and their families, by creating family-friendly rooms on our busy wards. 

Survey of bereaved family members - Voices MaJam

We aim to provide the best end of life care to all of our patients and to their families. The Mater Hospital and St. James's Hospital, along with our academic partners University College Dublin (UCD) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) have carried out a survey of bereaved family members to help us understand patients and their families experiences of end of life care in our hospitals. We would like to sincerely thank all of the family members who took part in the survey. 

Questions you may have

You may hear the words “palliative care” mentioned in the hospital. The palliative care team is a team of doctors, nurses and other staff who specialise in providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness.

As well as providing relief from pain and other symptoms, palliative care offers support and comfort to patients and provides for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs in the best way possible. For more information on palliative care, please see our palliative care page.

When a family member is seriously ill or dying, visitors may attend our hospital outside of visiting hours. The relevant nurse manager will discuss this with you and your family. If you wish to have visitors restricted, please tell our nursing staff and we will do our very best to ensure this happens.

We ask that you respect the privacy of others and that you limit the number of people visiting at any given time to a maximum of two. 

We do have limited access to an overnight room for family members. In general, this is only offered to those families whose loved ones are in the last days of their life. We can, on occasion, set up a temporary bed or recliner chair in the family room. The relevant nurse manager will discuss this with you and your family. Longer term accommodation cannot be provided.

Caring for someone with a serious illness can be both a difficult and fulfilling experience. Information and guidance for carers can help to make the experience less stressful. Our medical social work service can provide you with information, advice and support.

The Irish Cancer Society has a helpful booklet called A Time to Care, which contains advice about caring for a seriously ill person at home. For a free copy, visit the Daffodil Centre in our hospital or call the Irish Cancer Society’s Cancer Nurseline on Freefone 1800 200 700.

Taking part in decisions that are made about your treatment is the single most important way to get the best care for your needs. It is okay to ask us questions and to expect answers you can understand. It may help to write your questions down before an appointment. You can also take notes and have a family member or carer with you.

Watch the video - An introduction to Palliative Care

Helpful information and resources



Coroner's post mortem


 Other useful information

Accessibility & understanding

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